Restoring damaged wetlands to productive condition

Wetlands are critical ecosystems that help to filter many toxicants from the earth's waters. Distressed wetlands can be brought back to life in a number of ways, and flood pulsing is a natural and proven means to help rejuvenate the entire wetland ecosystem. Restoration ecology is the fundamental science behind this technique, and it is a cornerstone to longer term restoration projects.
Wetlands provide environmental services such as groundwater recharge and discharge, flood control, retention of nutrients and sediments, shoreline stabilization and erosion control, waste disposal, habitat and aesthetic values. Wetlands retain nutrients, most importantly nitrogen and phosphorus, by accumulation in the sub-soil, or storage in the vegetation itself, thus improving water quality and preventing eutrophication. By removing nutrients, wetlands can dispense with the need to build water treatment facilities.
A conservancy on Hilton Head Island, S.C., is using reclaimed/treated water from a tertiary water treatment plant owned by the Hilton Head Plantation to restore the swamp area and recharge the aquifer. The conservancy is home to wading birds such as heron, egret, and ibis, which require standing water around the black gum trees they use as nesting sites. Before the programme was initiated, the local water table was lowered by the increased industrial and development demand and a drought; the birds had started to leave. With the new programme, birds are returning.

In reclaimed wetlands, keeping shrubs and hedgerows on agricultural field margins is important for over-wintering of beneficial arthropods and other organisms useful both as pest enemies and for bird feeding.

The USA federal state pledged $8 million in 1998 for a plan to restore the Florida everglades over the next few decades. The plan is the most comprehensive ecological restoration ever attempted in the USA. Ecologists argue that the plan is not comprehensive enough, that the money will be wasted, and most restoration will not even begin for the next 25 years.

Type Classification:
D: Detailed strategies
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic GrowthGOAL 15: Life on Land